If you’ve been following my 365 Days of Activity posts on Facebook or Twitter, you might have noticed a few entries listing my workouts as “MRT (paired sets)…” or something similar. And, unless you’re an ultra fitness geek, you probably have no idea what MRT is. Today, I’d like to help you geek out and tell you all about it.
MRT is an acronym for Metabolic Resistance Training. It’s a type of strength training (weight lifting) that runs you through a cycle of exercises in quick succession, leaving your whole body exhausted and your metabolism on fire. There are three basic concepts to follow:
1. Do a series of strength moves that alternate between non-competing muscle groups so that you can move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. Huh?! Basically, don’t hit the same muscle group twice in a row. Alternate between upper body and lower body moves, working core moves into the mix as well. NOTE: While you want to move rather quickly from one exercise to the next and minimize rest time, you DO NOT want to rush your repetitions. Use good form and make each rep a controlled one.
2. Lift lighter weights and do higher repetitions. I’m not talking about the pink dumbbells here. Use a weight that will challenge you, but that will allow you to do between 15 and 20 repetitions with good form. But pay attention to the next part, because it’s the most important.
3. Do EVERY SET to fatigue (or to failure if you are working with a trainer or spotter). This means that with your relatively light weight, you can do 15 perfect repetitions. At 16 and 17 you strain hard. At 18 and 19 your form breaks just a little. You can’t do number 20. In the scenario just described, you are using the perfect weight for that exercise, and you should have stopped at rep #17, before your form broke. Now you know what weight to use for that exercise.
There are a number of different kinds of MRT workouts you can do, but they are all variations of a total body circuit workout. That is, you won’t be doing chest/tri/abs on Monday and back/biceps/shoulders on Tuesday. You’ll be doing it all, two or three times per week, on non-consecutive days.
Look for Part 2 of this post tomorrow, where I’ll give you a few examples of MRT formats you can use to design your own program. I’ll also explain in detail the science behind why this type of strength training is better for weight loss than traditional weight lifting, and why it’s even better than doing cardio – yep, even better than High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)!